Giving Yourself Some Growing Grace

If you are leading in any way, no doubt you are faced with potential personal growth opportunities. These opportunities come in various forms. Some are easy to understand while others are more complex. Some learnings are easier to implement than others. Unfortunately, the most difficult aspect of personal growth isn’t identifying the growth opportunity, but rather dealing with our implementation attempts and setbacks.

Let me explain with a personal example:

I recently was able to take some time away from leading at Woodstock City Church. I spent the bulk of my time processing some interpersonal stuff that was directly impacting my ability to lead well in the long term. One key learning for me (among so many) was how easily I can allow what I do as a leader to define who I am as a person. When what I do is doing well, I’m doing well. When what I’m doing is struggling, I find myself personally struggling. When I fail, I begin to believe I am a failure. It’s identity 101, but none of us are immune to forgetting this Christian life principle. Especially in leadership, where progress and doing is the bulk of the work.

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Does Your Team Really Believe They Belong?

Have you ever felt you needed to prove yourself? Prove your worth? Prove you deserved to be at your company, church, or organization?

I guess that’s more of a rhetorical question, right?

We’ve all felt the sense of performance-based acceptance at play in our heart. It’s part of the human condition. We’ve all wondered if we really belong. If we are worthy of our role.

As leaders, we have to look outside of our own experience to see the bigger problem: The internal battle to belong isn’t isolated to us. If we have felt it, most likely everyone in our organization has felt it — or is currently feeling it. And it’s a problem on several fronts. I know, because like you, I’ve been there.

The Internal Battle to Belong Creates:

1. Sideways energy: When people are trying to prove their worth, their misapplied motivation moves their energy away from the good work and toward a good pat on the back. When people are focused on being noticed, their efforts cannot be fully dedicated to something bigger than themselves.

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Filling Seats on Your Bus

If you lead any type of organization — company, church, or department — you probably have an organizational chart of some sort. It’s one of those necessary structures that help delineate chain of command and channels of communication, among others.

When I first began leading a church (a typical organization in many ways), I was encouraged to envision the org chart 5 – 10 years down the road. What departments would be necessary? What divisions? How many layers? How many staff? I even went as far as putting my name in most of the “open” positions in this hypothetical org chart. Visually, it looked impressive and strategic. Personally, it just looked like I had too much to do!

I think this is a valuable exercise for every leader. If you’ve never done it, you should. But a few years into leading at Woodstock City Church, this exercise created quite the conundrum.

Here’s the dilemma I began to ponder:

Is it better to start with the org chart in place so you can then find the right people for each box, or is it better to find the right people and build the organization around them?

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11 Lessons from Announcing our Name Change

If you’re a leader, you’ve had to make and then announce a big decision before. How’d it go? I bet like me you learned a lot in the process.

At the church where I lead, we just announced we are changing the name of our church from Watermarke Church to Woodstock City Church. If you’re not in the world of church, you should know this is a big decision and a big announcement. It’s the equivalent of changing a company name where the name is the product. This change could be problematic in any size church, but with over 5,000 people attending our church every Sunday, our scale increases the possibility of resistance and complication.

Interestingly, with all the potential pitfalls of an announcement of this magnitude, thus far we have received nothing but praise on the heels of going public. Why? Well, partially due to the name we are leaving — Watermarke Church. Why the silent “e?” What does it mean? Well, nothing really. The silent “e” was added to avoid a potential lawsuit (very Christian-like, huh?).

But the real reason this change has been so well received is because of our approach.

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7 Simple Ways to Engage Millennials at Your Church

In the previous post, we evaluated the church’s ability to capture the millennial generation.

It’s an ever-growing conversation among church leaders. Reaching the “young people” as a church has been a conversation since I was a young person. My guess is every generation of the church has struggled to reach the next generation on some level. But I wonder if it has less to do with their generational grouping and more to do with their stage of life. Certainly every generation has its unique qualities, and we would be foolish as church leaders to ignore these trends, but twenty-something’s of my generation behaved in many ways like the twenty-something’s of this generation. In fact, there might be more in common with twenty-something’s across each generation that we realized.

If my presumption is true, reaching the “young people” in the community is less about their generational intricacies and more about understanding a twenty-something. From where I sit, I don’t see this segment of adults fleeing the church in record numbers. What I see is these young adults behaving like I did when I was in my twenties. They aren’t lost — they’re just disconnected until they feel a tension to reconnect.

To that point, when these twenty-something’s marry and have children, many show back up to church. The reason is simple: They have a felt need for God and the church again. Felt need is what always drives us to God (and the church), whether it’s a felt need to feel less guilty or in this case a need to fix a marriage or learn how to raise a kid.

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Holding Out to Reach Millennials at Church

Have you mastered reaching the millennial generation in your church?

If so, you need to start a blog and podcast to help the rest of us!

If not, I have some encouragement for you — and for me as a church leader.

Here it is. The full proof way to reach the millennial generation:

Wait until they are married with kids.

Boom. That’s the secret. Seriously, though, I’m beginning to believe reaching the millennial generation is not about market segmentation and generational characteristics. It’s not about becoming something new and unique, designing services and experiences just for them. It’s not about propping up your new social justice programs and using Instragram. Reaching millennials might be a waiting game — like a starring contest. Just wait them out.

Of course, I say this somewhat sarcastically, but there is some truth behind the sarcasm. When I consider my own story, and as you look back at yours, maybe there isn’t as much to worry about after all.

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What If Public Grace Generated Opportunities For Private Truth?

Do you like politics?

I hate it.

I’ll sound more Christian and say I strongly dislike it.

For a short season in my early twenties, I thought I wanted to be in politics. At least until a close friend told me I was WAY too honest and opinionated to be a successful politician. I’ve never played relational games for sport and I certainly will never be blamed for telling people what they want to hear. That’s the type of person I want in political office, and there are some like that serving today, but I’m not sure we as a people are ready to vote for that person en masse.

I guess we like to hear what we want to hear. We are certainly drawn to what we like to hear.

The portion of politics that would have been most challenging to me was fund-raising. To raise political funds, a candidate must make big, bold statements that rally the home crowd enough to drive funding — whether they believe it or not, or plan to act on it or not. It’s this type of “red meat rhetoric” that dominates the political landscape today. Every political commercial or staged speech rips apart the opposition while passing off the strongest of opinions only to strengthen internal support and raise funds. Politics is a game — not of truth and justice, and in many ways not even about votes, but a game of winning and losing dollars (which are then converted to votes).

To me, the Christian landscape in our country often mirrors the political landscape in our country.

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How to Increase Your Reach by Narrowing Your Focus

This is Part 7 (and the last) of a blog series on Creating Continuous Growth in Your Church.

SERIES SUMMARY:

Every church leader facing a growth barrier desperately wants to break through, because every church leader, including me, desires a growing, thriving church. Not because church attendance is the only measure of success, but because increasing attendance is proof that people are being reached.

Here is a question I’ve begun to ask: What if instead of just breaking through a specific barrier we were able to barrier-proof our church? Pause for a moment and imagine never hitting a growth barrier again.

I believe barrier-proofing is possible for every church in any denomination, and that’s exactly what we are going to evaluate in this blog series.

I have uncovered 6 specific ingredients to create continuous growth in your church. In this post, we are going to look at the fifth ingredient:

Ingredient 6: MAINTAINING A CLEAR FOCUS

In this last post, we are going to evaluate the most simple, yet counterintuitive ingredient to creating a continuously growing church.

Here’s our starting place: Logically, the more we offer at our church, the more needs we can meet. The more ministry we provide, the more people we will attract. If we offer Upward Sports, we can attract the recreation crowd. If we offer VBS, we’ll reach children outside of Sunday. If we have a Men’s ministry, we’ll get more guys to eat pancakes and pray together. If we offer Women’s ministry, we’ll give ladies a place to belong and do life together. We have to offer Sunday School, because, well, we’re a church! We need softball and basketball teams for adults, because where else will men recreate? And we have those fields out back, too. We should probably have a food pantry and clothes closet, because people in our community are in need and we are a church. Maybe a homeless shelter? And we should also have a school — and not just a preschool, but a real school.

That’s all well and good. It’s even logical. Some would say strategic, and most would say it’s church.

But here’s the counter to counterintuitive: It’s crazy complicated to offer countless ministries and programs. We would all agree making our church more complicated and complex does not necessarily equal more effective. It certainly doesn’t guarantee more people. Complication spreads our leadership too thin. It spreads our effectiveness too thin. It spreads our resources too thin. It happens subtly over time, often without us even noticing. Before we know it, though, our church is burdened with more than can be done well, and our reach and effectiveness will be hampered as a result.

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3 Keys to Create an Unchurched Entry Point at Your Church

This is Part 6 of a blog series on Creating Continuous Growth in Your Church.

SERIES SUMMARY:

Every church leader facing a growth barrier desperately wants to break through, because every church leader, including me, desires a growing, thriving church. Not because church attendance is the only measure of success, but because increasing attendance is proof that people are being reached.

Here is a question I’ve begun to ask: What if instead of just breaking through a specific barrier we were able to barrier-proof our church? Pause for a moment and imagine never hitting a growth barrier again.

I believe barrier-proofing is possible for every church in any denomination, and that’s exactly what we are going to evaluate in this blog series.

I have uncovered 6 specific ingredients to create continuous growth in your church. In this post, we are going to look at the fifth ingredient:

Ingredient 5: DEFINING, DESIGNING, AND DEFENDING THE ENTRY POINT

Where do people enter your home?

Friends probably come through the side door — often called a “friend door” for that very reason.

Family most often through the garage. I have four kids, and they more spill into the house through the garage, rarely closing it, shoes and socks and various clothing dropped anywhere and everywhere except the laundry room in the process. But maybe that’s just me.

But what about guests? Where do guests typically come into your home? It’s different for guests, right? They aren’t yet friends (the jury is still out), so the friend door isn’t a great option. They aren’t family, so the garage probably should remain closed when we are expecting them (and we hope they keep their socks on, too). In my home when we have guests over, much like you, they enter through the front door. The front door is the guest entry point into our home. It might be a little further than the garage or side door, but it’s where they go. It’s more comfortable for them and for us, mostly because it’s designed with them in mind.

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Creating Continuous Church Growth Through Steps, Not Programs

This is Part 5 of a blog series on Creating Continuous Growth in Your Church.

SERIES SUMMARY:

Every church leader facing a growth barrier desperately wants to break through, because every church leader, including me, desires a growing, thriving church. Not because church attendance is the only measure of success, but because increasing attendance is proof that people are being reached.

Here is a question I’ve begun to ask: What if instead of just breaking through a specific barrier we were able to barrier-proof our church? Pause for a moment and imagine never hitting a growth barrier again.

I believe barrier-proofing is possible for every church in any denomination, and that’s exactly what we are going to evaluate in this blog series.

I have uncovered 6 specific ingredients to create continuous growth in your church. In this post, we are going to look at the fourth ingredient:

Ingredient 4: PRIORITIZING STEPS OVER EVENTS AND PROGRAMS

The concept of “thinking steps, not programs” is ingrained in our ministry model. By nature we try to define where people are, where we want them to be, and how we can get them there. Programs and events don’t effectively achieve this goal. Easy, obvious, and logical steps, however, do.

As a church location of North Point Ministries, this serves as one of our Seven Practices of Effective Ministry. A simple Google search will provide you with more than enough information on this ministry model practice. In this post, I want to instead discuss why this approach is critical to barrier-proofing the church.

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